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Fresno County Spelling Champ Exits in Early Rounds of National Spelling Bee



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Fresno County’s spelling champ Achuth Vinay will have to wait another year to try to bring home a national trophy like his sister’s. Achuth was knocked out of Saturday’s preliminary rounds of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which were held virtually.

Check out my other School Zone columns at Nancy Price’s School Zone Facebook page.

The word “aggroup” got the better of Achuth, a sixth-grader at Fugman Elementary School in northeast Fresno. He spelled the word meaning “to put things in a group” with only one g instead of two.

Achuth had cleared the first two rounds, correctly spelling “bozzetto” in round 1 (bozzetto means a small rough clay study for a larger sculpture) and correctly defining a “presumptuous” person as one who takes liberties in round 2, in which students were tested on word definitions. (Maybe they should change the name from Spelling Bee to Spelling and Word Meaning Bee?)

As a sixth-grader, Achuth has two more years of eligibility if he wants to try to match his sister Anaya’s win in the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The quarterfinals began at 9 a.m. Monday and are being broadcast on ESPN3. Because of the pandemic, all but the finals on July 8 are being held virtually.

The Valley’s other contestant, Kleema Al-Ghazali of Visalia, was knocked out of the competition in round 2 Saturday when she gave an incorrect definition for “anglophile,” which is someone who admires England and its culture. Kleema had successfully spelled “niveau” (a level or plateau) in round 1.

Also in School Zone: 

  • Fresno Unified unveils new summer literacy programs for elementary students.
  • UCSF Fresno’s Class of 2021 will add to Valley’s health care workforce.

Summer Reading Gets a Big Boost

Fresno Unified wants to give all elementary students more chances to practice their reading skills this summer and is rolling out several new programs.

Kids in kindergarten through grade 5 who participate in the Summer Academy summer school will get Grab and Go book packs, five books that are appropriate to their grade and reading skill level and which will also promote social-emotional development — something kids also will need help with due to educational isolation caused by the pandemic. The books, which will be in English and Spanish, will be accompanied by a literacy journal for the kids and a “Family Guide to Literacy” so parents can help with reading at home.

Camp Read-a-Lot is a summer school program for kids in kindergarten through grade 4 who have been targeted for extra reading help. The program, which began Monday and ends July 12, is being offered at two sites in each high school region. Participants will get five new books to keep.

The A4 Reading Program is for students in kindergarten through grade 5 and is a collaboration of the district’s Office of African American Academic Acceleration (A4) and the Springboard Collaborative. It is being held at Ayer, King, Thomas, and Williams elementary schools through July 14.

More Graduates Means More Doctors for Valley

The UCSF Fresno physician-training program graduated its latest class on Thursday, when 109 medical residents and fellows, dental residents, and physician assistants completed their training.

Like last year’s ceremony, this year’s graduates celebrated virtually because of pandemic restrictions.

UCSF Fresno was established in 1975 to address the huge shortage of physicians in the Valley, and 40% of the Class of 2021 are remaining in the Valley to practice medicine, the university reported.

They include:

  • 60% of residents and fellows completing training in the Department of Emergency Medicine.
  • 47% of residents and fellows completing training in the Department of Family and Community Medicine.
  • 50% of Internal Medicine residents.
  • 46% of residents completing training in the Department of Pediatrics.
  • Both fellows in the Infectious Diseases Program are staying in Fresno as faculty at UCSF Fresno to train physicians and provide desperately needed expertise in the community to address COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

Nancy Price is a multimedia journalist for GV Wire. A longtime reporter and editor who has worked for newspapers in California, Florida, Alaska, Illinois and Kansas, Nancy joined GV Wire in July 2019. She previously worked as an assistant metro editor for 13 years at The Fresno Bee. Nancy earned her bachelor's and master's degrees in journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. Her hobbies include singing with the Fresno Master Chorale and volunteering with Fresno Filmworks. You can reach Nancy at 559-492-4087 or Send an Email